We're now three months from the provincial election. The government doesn't seem to want to talk in-depth about BC Hydro, so it will be up to the voters to press it as an issue. What are the parties' plans to get BC Hydro out of debt? How much will they increase our rates? How will they bring costs under control?
Heading into this month's B.C. budget, Premier Christy Clark is saying all the right things about scrapping the Medical Services Premium (MSP) tax. The B.C. Liberals have been busy pouring water on every smoldering election issue they can find. On and on the list goes, leaving the MSP tax as one of the few big potholes remaining on the road to re-election.
Despite all the good the FNFTA has done in B.C., members of 23 bands are still waiting to see this year's disclosures, and three are missing two full years. This is basic transparency that every citizen deserves - how does government spend their money, and how much do politicians spend on themselves?
"The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing." Mayors forgot that axiom last year when they spent millions trying to convince taxpayers to hand over a new sales tax to TransLink -- an agency widely reviled for its wasteful spending.
Leaders have a responsibility to resist their own cynicism and scratch beneath the surface to hear what people -- even those who are opposed -- are saying. What is the core concern driving the speaker? Is it affordability? Safety? Mayors should ask genuine questions of people, and actually listen to their responses
Robertson's vacancy and Airbnb taxes are a significant stumble down a slippery slope. If these new taxes don't raise the vacancy rate high enough, will he go after unoccupied suites in homes? Empty bedrooms? If private housing is now a social good, with its use essentially controlled through tax and regulation, what's to stop these next steps?
In last year's Liberal election platform, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to legalize marijuana, touting a "new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution, with appropriate federal and provincial excise taxes applied." By leaving out the possibility of city taxes, Trudeau raised the hackles of spend-crazy mayors across the nation. Now the mayors are pushing back -- they want a piece of the green.
B.C. has become the first foreign government to issue a Masala bond in India. Essentially, B.C. took on $97.5 million in debt and immediately reinvested that money not in B.C. infrastructure or something that would help B.C. taxpayers, but in the Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) Limited of India.
There's no tax quite as popular as a tax on someone else. But will the people still be on board once the bills come in for collecting the Vancouver vacancy tax, or when the foreign investment tax has to morph to catch the money coming into the country? Or if housing prices are unaffected? Or if housing prices plunge and Canadian homeowners owe more than their home is worth?
Todd Stone, B.C.'s minister of transportation, has apparently told the Victoria Regional Transit Commission (VRTC) that he will approve their long-standing request for a two cents per litre gas tax hike in the Victoria region. The VRTC wants the tax, which would generate $6.6 million, for bus improvements.
Progressive economist Jim Stanford invites us to reimagine Bombardier's demand for another taxpayer handout as an exciting opportunity for an "equity investment." In his view, focusing on the usual metrics for businesses -- such as "does the company make money?" or "can it actually sell the products it makes?" -- is evidence of a dangerous affliction he refers to as "market fundamentalism."
Road levy. Recreation and culture levy. Transportation for tomorrow tax. Dedicated road tax. Asset levy. Make no mistake: we want our cities to invest in infrastructure. Sewer, water, roads; these are core responsibilities of local government. But repackaging this spending with a new tax is a slap in the face.
All told, the B.C. government cut cheques for $1.5 billion in film subsidies over the past five years. That's more than taxpayers spent on the ministries of aboriginal relations, agriculture and environment -- combined. As if that wasn't enough, the federal government jumped in with $1.73 billion more nation-wide. With the low Canadian dollar attracting more filming here, these subsidies are going to soar even higher in 2016-17, as there are no caps on these payouts.